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True clauses and false connections

True clauses and false connections

Krzyżanowska, Karolina, Collins, Peter J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4831-2524 and Hahn, Ulrike (2021) True clauses and false connections. Journal of Memory and Language, 121:104252. ISSN 0749-596X (doi:

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Indicative conditionals - that is, sentences typically, though not exclusively, of the form “If p, (then) q,” -belong to the most puzzling phenomena of language. One of the puzzles that has recently attracted attention of psychologists of reasoning stems from the fact that on the majority of accounts of indicative conditionals, “If p, (then) q” can be true, or at least highly acceptable, even when there is no meaningful connection between p and q. Conditionals without such a connection, dubbed missing-link conditionals, however, often seem very odd. A standard pragmatic account of their oddity rests on an observation that, whenever missing-link conditionals come out as true, these are situations in which speakers are justified in asserting stronger, more informative statements. Asserting a less informative statement is odd because it is a violation of the Maxim of Quantity. This paper reports four experiments that present a challenge to the Gricean explanation of why missing-link conditionals are odd. At the same time, we will argue that these findings can be reconciled with general principles of Gricean pragmatics, if the connection is treated as a part of a conventional, “core” meaning of a conditional.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Uncontrolled Keywords: indicative conditionals, missing-link conditionals, conjunctions, relevance, assertability, Gricean pragmatics, then
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2021 11:17
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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